The Noodle Volume 13, Issue 7

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V O L . 1 3 , I S S U E 7, 2 0 2 3


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n a somewhat confusing world, we understand the fears and anxieties that accompany ambiguity. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and the multitude of global challenges can be overwhelming. Yet, in the midst of this uncertainty, we find a glimmer of hope. Great marketers have always been about more than just numbers and metrics. They are the architects of communities, the builders of brands that are welcoming and nurturing. In these times, we are reminded that it is not a moment to cower in fear, but a moment to be impactful, strong, and curious. These qualities have always defined great marketers. As we move forward into the unknown, remember that it is in the spaces of uncertainty that the most remarkable opportunities lie. Embrace the challenge of measuring your impact, and seize the initiatives that resonate with your vision. Together, we can transform adversity into advantage and create meaningful connections that inspire trust and loyalty. One perpetual challenge has stood at the forefront of marketing: measuring the true impact of our efforts on revenue. As we navigate this dynamic field, our aim is to shed light on the crucial topic of ROI measurement in our latest feature, “Cracking the Code - Unveiling the Perpetual Challenge of Measuring Marketing ROI for B2B Marketers.” Marketers, both seasoned professionals and newcomers, understand that in the world of marketing, demonstrating the tangible value of our endeavors remains a top priority. It’s a puzzle we all strive to solve. Our research has revealed that the top concern among marketers is precisely this—the quest to refine marketing impact measurement. In our second feature, “Next Chapter - The 2024 Marketing Initiatives,” we’re taking a different approach. Instead of merely predicting trends, we’ve chosen to listen to the heartbeat of the marketing community. We talked with a couple of experts to understand what initiatives marketers themselves deem most important for the upcoming year. It’s a testament to our commitment to providing you with insights rooted in real-world experience. We want to be a source of inspiration and knowledge, empowering you to make a difference in the marketing world. We encourage you to move forward with optimism, knowing that great marketers have the power to shape not only brands but also the world around them. Warmest wishes,

Diana Renner Publisher


Eye on the Prize

02 Cover Story........................................ Cracking the Code 06 Feature................................................................... Next Chapter 10 Tactics........................................ Strategies You Can Use 12 On the Record with.................................. Scott Edinger

Publisher Diana Renner The Noodle is published bimonthly by Think Patented, ©23. All rights reserved. For more information, contact 937.353.2299

This issue features a dull strike-through varnish effect with flood gloss UV coating on the front and back covers, and a gloss aqueous coating on the text pages. Printed on the Heidelberg XL 106 with process UV inks, using Genuine Gloss 100 lb Cover and Genuine Gloss 80 lb Text. The insert is printed on Cougar® Smooth 80 lb Cover.

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ne of Ashlye Bradford’s favorite marketing adages is, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half.” The famed quote from Macy’s founder John Wanamaker highlights the historical challenge of accurately measuring marketing’s impact. Today, with advanced analytics and technology, marketers like Bradford, Marketing Director for Parsec Automation Corp., seem to be inching closer to solving the age-old riddle, but it remains a complex endeavor, especially in the B2B space. A serial connector and collaborator, Bradford oversees a team of designers, writers and promoters that help ensure Parsec’s marketing initiatives are consistent and innovative, all the while enhancing every aspect of the customer experience. When it comes to measuring the impact of marketing on revenue, Bradford sizes the challenge up to several factors.


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Chief among the challenges is data, especially regarding policy and management. Stricter data privacy laws like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) continue to limit the accessibility and use of customer data, which complicates ROI management. “Within an organization, data often resides in silos across various marketing platforms and channels,” Bradford says. “Without data centralization, it’s difficult for marketers to obtain a comprehensive view of the customer journey and revenue impact.” Another challenge relates to modern customer engagement. In the Digital Age, customers engage with brands through multiple touchpoints—e.g., blog posts, social media, whitepapers, etc.—

before making a purchase. While this multi-prong approach does wonders for building brand loyalty, it makes it difficult for marketers to attribute revenue to specific marketing efforts. Finally, marketers face category-specific challenges in quantifying marketing impact. For example, in enterprise software, marketers often see extended sales cycles—sometimes deals take months or even years to close. This delay makes it challenging to directly correlate marketing activities with revenue. “Traditional measurement methods like ROI calculators and attribution models can no longer keep up with today’s complex, digital-first customer engagement,” Bradford says. “They don’t adequately capture the full customer journey and the impact of

EYE ON THE PRIZE s a strategic planner at BBDO New York and GSD&M, Chris Kocek has spent his career working with some of the most iconic brands in the world. Depending on the day and project, Kocek and his team helped forge strategies for AARP,, Lowe’s, Hyatt Hotels, Ace Hardware, John Deere, and scores of others. Today, as founder and CEO of Gallant Branding, Kocek focuses his attention on the worlds of retail, food and beverage, hospitality, and more, working on new product launches and brand overhauls. Sitting at the top of his to-do list is calculating the data-driven analysis these campaigns deliver on the way to forming national recognition. With so many channels to measure, Kocek admits that some don’t offer an immediate one-to-one impact on lead gen or revenue. For example, a marketing team can spend a lot of time creating social media content and measure engagements such as likes, comments, shares, etc., but rarely do those actions translate into immediate conversions in the form of product purchases. “If you get a like or a comment, that doesn’t necessarily mean the person is interested in buying a product or service. It could just mean they agree with something you said. There often can be quite a bit of distance between


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agreement and purchase intent, so it can be difficult to discern genuine interest from all the noise.” The biggest obstacles Kocek and his team encounter tend to center on modeling and consistency. First, they have to create a reliable reporting model—something that shows if a prospect takes the five to 10 steps from social to search to the website to your email nurture sequence. Too often, there is an X% probability they will fill out your form or buy your product. Most businesses don’t take the time to set up those kinds of measurement goals to really understand those customer pathways with the highest conversion rates.

factors like brand awareness and long-term relationships. These legacy tools often lack the granularity to differentiate between various channels and tactics, making it difficult to effectively allocate resources.” The scope of customer engagement and measuring its impact depends on what sector you play in. In the ever-expanding world of marketing, there are several differences between B2B and B2C. One major difference lies in the customer pipeline. In the B2B world, the customer pipeline tends to involve relatively long sales cycles, complex buyer journeys and a concerted focus on relationship building. These efforts all require a relatively nuanced and customized ROI measurement process.


The second obstacle is consistency and real-time reporting. Often, businesses will try a variety of different marketing activations—paid search, social media campaigns, event activations, influencer partnerships— without consistently focusing on the results of each activation. “Consistent, real-time reporting is critical if you want to see what’s working and what’s not so that you can avoid wasting money,” Kocek says. “When it comes to measurement, it’s like a lot of businesses are driving with a GPS turned on (reporting), but they’re only looking at it once every 30 minutes (delayed reporting), which means

By comparison, the B2C pipeline tends to be more straightforward and transactional. B2C marketers often lean more toward short-term ROI, versus B2B’s emphasis on longer-term customer lifetime value (CLV). “In my view, it comes down to internal processes,” Bradford says. “B2B decisions often require consensus among multiple stakeholders, whereas B2C marketing purchases are typically more individualistic. These differing strategies translate to different measurement approaches. B2B marketers tend to work with smaller and more defined customer bases, requiring more personalized tracking and measurement. B2C customer bases are often larger, lending themselves to broader measurement methodologies.”

they miss valuable information that could help them navigate and adapt much more quickly.” In a time when artificial intelligence (AI) is rising to the forefront, Kocek says that marketers must be cognizant of the fact that they still have to do the work. “Yes, AI will help, but you still have to know what your goals are. You still have to know what you’re looking for within the data to help you set your navigation. AI won’t tell you what gems are hiding in your data. You have to prompt it. You have to know what questions to ask in the first place to tease out the insights that are hiding.” In the end, everything starts with data-driven benchmarks. What do you really know about the customers who have purchased from you? What are the actual pathways that led them to you and what messages did you use or test at various points of the journey that increased or decreased the close rate? “You have to set up your measurement system so that you can be methodical and not just throw creative noodles against the wall in the hopes that one of them sticks,” Kocek says. “And you still have to have marketing and sales working hand-in-hand. Your sales teams’ experience with potential customers can provide valuable information that can lead to more effective headlines and optimized placement. If your departments aren’t integrated when it comes to marketing, it’s like trying to drive a car where one hand is turning the wheel one way and the other hand is trying to turn the wheel the other way.” For today’s marketers, cracking the code continues to be a practice of traditional marketing strategies married with innovative ways to get what a brand needs. Your success depends on it.

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xpertise. Evolution. Innovation. Amy Stettler says that if you’re looking for some buzzwords that might set the marketing world on fire in 2024, these are as good a start as any. More than anything else, Stettler, VP of Growth for the Level Agency, says these words are driven mainly by experiences that make up today’s consumers’ lives. Think personalization through data and innovation. While the marketing world has spent much of its time talking about personalization, 2024 will come to mean more subtle, highly targeted engagements that not only fit the persona’s behaviors, but also their mindset. “This is what many of us have been working to build for decades,” says Stettler, whose firm combines the art and science of marketing to drive results in the strategic, creative, and paid media support arenas. With the continuous evolution of trackability in marketing, marketers will need to focus on fractional attribution to qualify investments and calculate true ROI. “Having a data-led strategy that is using intent behaviors and context to connect to audiences will be key,” Stettler says. “And AI will be productized and layered into all companies’ marketing strategies to create efficiencies throughout the marketing process.” To get a feel for some of the trends, challenges and strategies for 2024, we sat down with several leading marketing thought leaders to share their insights, including Stettler; Casey Jones, founder, and Head of Marketing and Finance at CJ&CO; and Stephanie Crockett, President and CEO of Mower.


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preferences and needs to provide a truly personalized experience. Privacy-focused marketing. Data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA will force marketers to rethink targeting and analytics. Zero-party data strategies, where consumers willingly share their data, will become increasingly important.

Are there any crucial initiatives that might be taking a back seat in 2024?

What top initiatives will define the marketing landscape in 2024?

Level Agency’s Stettler: The top initiatives keeping me up at night and taking up mindshare in my planning are evolving to a data-led organization that is aligning sales, marketing and product teams; operationalizing AI into my day-to-day operating model; and defining marketing ROI via fractional attribution at each stage through the customer journey. Mower’s Crockett: Keep your fingers

on the industry pulse and believe that generative AI, authenticity and trust associated with social media content creators and geopolitical developments will play major roles in the marketing landscape in 2024. CJ&CO’s Jones: Personalization at scale. With AI and machine learning advances, marketers can deliver hyper-targeted messaging and experiences. This isn’t just about using someone’s name in an email; it’s about understanding their behaviors,



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Level Agency’s Stettler: It’s very hard to say, as it may be different per industry. The three big trends touch literally every aspect of marketing. Possibly, general mass market messaging will take a back seat to data-led and personalized communications. We will continue to see linear TV and traditional advertising channels decline, and short-term influencer partnerships will stop delivering value. Of course, there will always be testing, but I estimate that marketers will no longer be able to tolerate banking on quick fixes and short-term strategies in 2024. Mower’s Crockett: If 2024 follows the trajectory of the second half of 2023, there will be many initiatives that take a back seat, as teams and budgets get tighter and the expectations of ROI from marketing gets ratcheted up even further. But that doesn’t necessarily have to mean diminished investment. More so, that means a more intense, but narrower focus on the tools and initiatives that deliver the most value, differentiation, and growth, while leaving enough room to respond to the now predictably unpredictable market forces and opportunities that pop up along the way. CJ&CO’s Jones: In-person events and experiences may still be hampered by the lingering effects of the pandemic. Brands may need to pivot and allocate more resources to creating engaging digital experiences.

How important will crossdepartmental collaboration be in executing the top marketing initiatives for 2024?

Level Agency’s Stettler: Aligning sales, marketing and product are more important

than ever because audiences are no longer willing to ignore those disconnects or connect the dots for you. What you say and sell must be backed up by the quality of the products you’re putting out to the customer. If they aren’t, you run the risk of losing those customers for life. Millennials, Gen Z and soon to be Generation Alpha (those born from 20102024) are not as forgiving as Gen X and boomers before them. CJ&CO’s Jones: This will be extremely important. Marketing needs to partner closely with sales, product and CX teams to build cohesive customer journeys. Shared goals and alignment will be critical for success.

Any advice or insights you can offer for next year?

Level Agency’s Stettler: Stay focused on evolving and double down on AI. It is a massive opportunity to increase thought leadership and introduce truly new and innovative ways of working. While it will impact some jobs, the majority of that impact will be positive. AI will allow the human to continue doing what it does better than any machine, which is to bring empathy and human-centric design thinking to life in how marketing is built and deployed. It reduces busy time and now makes every transaction 100x more valuable. Mower’s Crockett: It is difficult to know exactly what 2024 will serve up, but marketers need to be sensitive in their communications, while realizing that brands must build affection, relevance and trust in turbulent times like these. Brands must also consider their purpose. It might sound cliché, but if the brand has no purpose other than to make money, employees and customers will feel it and will in turn lack loyalty and meaning. Brands must take strong, supportive stances and move everyday into the future with a purpose that benefits all key audiences and stakeholders. CJ&CO’s Jones: Stay nimble and keep learning. The marketing landscape is constantly evolving and the pace of change is only going to accelerate. Marketers must be comfortable with ambiguity and ready to reinvent their strategies continually.

Focus on the fundamentals: storytelling, community building and creating genuine connections with your audience. The future belongs to those who can balance datadriven insights with creativity.

What should every marketer know about sustainability and ethical practices in 2024?

Level Agency’s Stettler: Overall, sustainability and ethical practices are no longer just a nice to have—they are becoming a necessity for brands looking to connect with modern consumers. Brands that are able to authentically integrate these values into the marketing are likely to see positive impact on brand image and affinity as well as on the bottom line. This continues to be a huge area of focus, and

transparency within the rise of conscious consumerism is critical. Don’t be afraid to talk about your DEI approach and actions. Mower’s Crockett: It’s critical that clients and agencies walk the talk with a solid commitment to initiatives if they are going to address them as part of their marketing story. Consumers are savvy and insistent that brands they back align with their own values. For brands, there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide if they are less than authentic on these issues. CJ&CO’s Jones: These will be at the forefront of marketing initiatives. Consumers are increasingly making purchasing decisions based on a brand’s values and social responsibility. Marketers will need to communicate their brand’s commitment to these issues authentically.


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usiness buyers around the world are overwhelmingly price-sensitive as they navigate macroeconomic headwinds such as inflation, the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a generational shift in the workforce. To understand how these factors affect business buying behavior, Forrester surveyed more than 18,000 global respondents to glean their latest preferences. The 2023 survey results, highlighted in our new report, The State Of Business Buying, 2023 exposed four areas that impacted businesses’ purchases:

1. FINANCIAL CONSTRAINTS ■ 89% of respondents faced stall reasons due to

budget constraints.

■ Price is the top priority for buyers.

2. VENDOR-OWNED INTERACTIONS ■ Product experts, sales representatives, and

customer service/success teams are most influential in the buying cycle. ■ Vendor presentations have the most influence on complex purchases.

3. GENERATIONAL DIFFERENCES ■ 71% of respondents are “younger buyers”

(Millennials and Generation Z), while 29% are “older buyers” (Generation X and Baby Boomers). ■ Older buyers rely more on previous provider experience for information. ■ Younger buyers face challenges like building internal consensus on vendor selection.

4. REGIONAL PRACTICES ■ Asia Pacific buyers value trust and relationships

with vendors.

■ Social issues like diversity, equity, sustainability,

and customer experience are crucial for Asia Pacific buyers. ■ North American buyers are more autonomous in their decision-making.


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➤ Buyers aged 25 to 44 will make

buyer needs to appropriate offerings — and their representative experts — earlier in the sales process.

up 75% of business buying teams in 2024.

➤ 64% of today’s B2B buyers were

➤ To alleviate buyer friction points

born after 1980 (digital natives).

in a smarter, more seamless manner, top sellers should forge effective partnerships with these experts and effectively orchestrate all person-toperson interactions.

➤ When engaged in face-to-face buying,

Forrester’s data shows that these buyers find personal interactions with product experts more meaningful than all other in-person activities.

➤ Sellers who practice this will see their

➤ Forrester predicts that 40% of

time spent on direct buyer engagement rise to 25% or more of their overall work week.

younger buyers will rate personto-person meetings with product experts as their most meaningful personal interactions.

Source: Forrester - Predictions 2024: Exploration Generates Progress


BRANDS INVEST IN DIRECT MAIL According to a recent Winterberry Group study sponsored by the U.S. Post Office, U.S. brands are set to invest over $39 billion in direct mail this year, ranking it fifth among advertising and marketing channels. Direct mail’s resilience is attributed to its effectiveness as a performance marketing channel, aiding in customer acquisition, sales, and data generation for measurability and personalization. However, it faces challenges due to its reputation for being expensive and traditional. Brands are increasingly adopting an omnichannel approach, prioritizing performance, exploring alternative channels like direct mail, leveraging data and technology, relying on third-party data, and seeking flexibility and scalability in their marketing strategies.

Source: Winterberry Group

“Direct mail is still an important channel,” says the vice president of client engagement of one audience data provider. “It’s a core channel for many brands that are seeking creative solutions to expand.”

Percent of Marketers Citing Reasons for Direct Mail Usage: 37% Omnichannel Activation 36% Enhanced Targeting Ability 34% Increased Personalization Note: 53% of marketers are shifting to more personalized content over the next year.

People need to learn and think for themselves. [GenAI] is only helpful as an additional tool, not a replacement for human thoughts, intelligence, and interaction.” Member of Forrester’s Consumer Voices Market Research Online Community

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How do you believe the areas of leadership, strategy and sales intersect? Why is this intersection crucial for business growth? Leadership is about results. And if you are leading a commercial organization, then some of the most important results are revenue, net income, margin expansion and measures of customer loyalty. If those results aren’t improving or growing, you are going in the wrong direction. Too many organizations address leadership, strategy and sales as wholly separate topics to be addressed. They end up siloed—and that limits growth. If you rely on any kind of sales team to connect with prospects, growth and sales are inextricably linked. What are some common challenges Fortune 500-type companies face in driving business growth? One of the main challenges I wrote about in my book, “The Growth Leader,” is the lack of alignment between the C-suite and the sales organization. Statistics show that 86% of CEOs are not strategically involved with the sales function, while nearly a third are completely disconnected. This creates a massive problem because every sales call represents the success or failure of the company strategy. It is the moment where the primary elements of a strategy come together for execution. So, when brands aren’t winning the customers they want or getting enough of the right kind of business, you’ll find the source of the problem here. The way to address it is to help executives understand that if they don’t build a stronger connection to sales and customers, they put their strategy execution at risk.


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onsultant. Advisor. Speaker. Author. There isn’t much Scott Edinger doesn’t do these days. The premier consultant for leading business growth initiatives has made a career of helping Fortune 500 brands like Lenovo, Marriott and Bank of America uncover the power that lies at the intersection of leadership, strategy and sales. His bestselling book (one of three), “The Growth Leader: Strategies to Drive the Top and Bottom Lines,” provides a strategic crash course on correctly orienting and aligning your company’s strategy for growth. Edinger’s work also can be seen in Forbes and Harvard Business Review, where his insights help CEOs and senior leaders develop pragmatic strategies and execute approaches to drive top and bottom-line. In addition, he has served as an affiliate faculty member for the University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler School of Business. We sat down with him to talk about the importance leadership across the board plays in connecting your business to the power of strategy and sales working together.

What key lessons do you emphasize to students about the real-world challenges of leadership and strategy? The most important thing is to be real and pragmatic about both. It is easy to get caught up in corporate speak and communicate vaguely. That turns most leaders’ efforts to clarify and share their strategies into conversations that are difficult to understand and boring. Leaders need to do the hard work of clarifying their messages about strategy, what success looks like in vivid terms, what parts of the market represent the ideal client profiles, and why they will choose your business in the face of competing alternatives. Communicating this with precise language, inspiring energy and connection is what allows you to share strategy that everyone can understand—and just as important, to see where the work they do contributes to that success. But that lesson seems to take a long time to learn.

Can you share a real-world example of how companies sell by delivering experiences beyond the product themselves? I’ve done lots of work with technology companies. One was trying to move from only selling hardware like servers and peripherals to selling a range of services and providing complete data center solutions. They needed to shift away from pitching the products and capabilities of the offering, just being a walking and talking brochure, and use the interaction to help clients think differently about managing their organizational data. To help clients recognize the serious implications of issues they weren’t paying enough attention to. To help them consider alternative solutions that could work better for them. Sellers could use insights about the issues combined with their experience and success with other clients. In this way, part of the value provided is the expertise that helps clients make

better decisions and achieve their data center objectives. Not just the hardware or services. When clients compare that kind of sales interaction to a pitch or a capabilities presentation, the value is powerful and differentiating. What are some actionable steps leaders can take to immerse themselves in customer experiences? I always suggest that leaders at all levels, but especially in the C-suite, spend time with customers and prospects. Go on sales calls. Not just with the good customers in wellorchestrated and carefully curated visits. Meet with prospects who aren’t your fans and who have made the

choice to work with your competitors. Learn what your sales organization faces in the market so you can help them and design your strategy to win more of the business you want. Too many executives are unaware of how little of their boardroom strategies make it to the front line or to customers with any impact. There are no customers at headquarters and too much internal focus will stunt growth. “The Growth Leader” emphasizes the importance of ensuring growth strategy is aligned at every level of the company. How can leaders effectively communicate and instill this mindset? I’ve been a part of many executive team sessions where we created a corporate strategy. The strategy never

failed in creation. One of the predictable points of failure or success is how that strategy moves from one level to the next. Leaders must prioritize discussing the strategy and how each level of management or front-line employees plays a part in bringing that strategy to life—how they execute on it every day. From clear priorities to well-defined projects and unequivocal milestones of progress. These topics must be a part of everyday conversation, woven into discussion about issues, performance, and results. It will never happen if you rely on the occasional town hall meeting or group emails. The real action on this happens in the small group and one-onone discussions that occur dozens of times each day.

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